Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Ole Miss 82 Bama 74.

I missed the first 5 minutes of the game because I had to take care of a work call before entering the gym.  I understand we jumped out to an 8-0 lead, and we were still up 15-9 when I made my way down to my seat.  Maybe I should have just stayed in the car.

Unfortunately, the trend of only playing one good half continued.  We lost momentum in the closing minutes of the first half when we bricked some free throws, turned the ball over, and gave up a 3 pointer at the buzzer cutting our lead in half at 30-27.  In the second half, once Jimmie Taylor went out of the game with 3 fouls Ole Miss went on a 17-3 run (before we called a timeout, I might add) to take a 9 point lead.  The key series of events came with around 9 minutes left, and Ole Miss leading by 3. The Rebels missed a 3, but Kessens failed to block out and Ole Miss got the rebound, making good on their next 3 point attempt.  In fairness, Jimmie Taylor was at the scorer's table waiting to check in at that point.  Rather than calling a timeout, Cooper turned the ball over leading to another wide open 3, giving the Rebels a 9 point lead.  We finally called the timeout, but the lead was too much to overcome.

With Jimmie on the bench, Ole Miss did not have to respect our inside game so they really extended their defense and put a lot of pressure on our guards.  We had too many turnovers and otherwise could not get anything going offensively for much of the second half.  The turnovers, and inability to slow down the Rebels point guard play, led to an abysmal second half defensive performance.

During the timeout, Coach Brannen really chewed Mike Kessens, but Mike's body language was not very receptive or respectful.

With our recent second half struggles, I have to wonder if the lack of depth is becoming an issue.  We're only going 8 deep, including playing Dakota Slaughter for 21 minutes in this game.  Dakota had a very nice game, scoring 8 points and going 2 for 4 from 3 point range, and he held his own defensively.  Perhaps he should have been receiving a little more playing time all along, I think he's at least good enough to give us some quality minutes while the scholarship guys get a breather.  I also don't understand why we haven't seen Devin Mitchell the last few games.  Especially as much as we were pressing once we fell behind in the second half, it would have been nice to have some more warm bodies out there.

I have to give credit to Ole Miss's Stefan Moody.  I really like the way he plays the game.  He's a lot like Retin athletically only quicker, but he has outstanding vision and makes great decisions.  He scored 25 points, and his dribble-drive and passing ability directly led to many more.

It's unfortunate this senior class had to go out with a loss, as they have stuck with us and continued to work hard through good and bad times the last 4 years.  Levi certainly did everything he could as captain, 32 points, 39 minutes, and a school record 17 for 17 from the line.  Coop also finished strong with 14 points and 6 of 7 from the line, and as discussed above Dakota Slaughter played well, and probably could have got even more minutes if not for having to come out of the game with a bloody nose.  It's sad that we may never get to watch those 3 play in Coleman again, and I certainly wish them the best in the future.

It was a small crowd of only around 4,000, but many people moved down closer to the court and those who showed up were generally loud and supportive, trying to will the team back from behind in the final minutes.

If you thought we would be a bubble team this year, congratulations, you were right.  We are squarely on the NIT bubble.

The loss was a huge blow to any realistic chances we had of making a run in the SEC tournament.  With Florida's win over Texas A&M, we are now mathematically eliminated from 7th place.  We will more than likely have to face either Florida or Vanderbilt in the Thursday game, and we all know what little success we've had against either of those teams.  If you are still holding out hope, the best case scenario for us is Tennessee somehow upset LSU in Baton Rouge tonight then beat South Carolina while we lose our final game to drop down to the 10 seed and avoid a potential second round matchup with Kentucky.

Up next, we go to College Station, TX to take on the Texas A&M Aggies in a 1 pm tipoff that will be televised on FSN.  As I said above, a loss could be better for our SEC tournament projections, but a win is likely needed for NIT hopes, for whatever that is worth.  I am making the trip, which will complete my tour of the SEC arenas.  I'm looking forward to meeting MSmilie at the game.


disqus_lLg81JC3CF said...

Problem: Not one Chief to promote the basketball program the past couple of years. The basketball team is a viable product that needs a Chief to promote it. Great player products on campus. Dedicated student/athletes! Where does the U of A President, the Athletic Director, or the Coach stand in promoting the product? Who is the Chief? Who has taken it on? Has done it? Need a Rah Rah person to be out front to promote this Basketball Product. Promote it! Sell it! it! Be out front to Rah Rah it! Come On! Like a Nike add: someone just step up and "Just Do It".

Msmilie said...

Well, Tennessee marched into Baton Rouge tonight and spanked LSU. You know, for all of this talk about how Anthony Grant has struggled at Alabama, has there been a coach in this league who has delivered less with more than Johnny Jones?

A win on Saturday will lock Alabama into the 8/9 game. I guess your feelings on this matter depend on how much you don't want the season to end. Even though things are disappointing right now, I love Alabama basketball and hate when the season ends. For that reason, I'm hoping the team can squeeze out an NIT invite.

finebammer said...

as i'm reading, the usc/ucla game is on in the background. bill walton is doing the commentary. somehow the conversation turns to 'milking cows'. walton at one point exclaims, "i have milked a cow. and i have been milked". this exclamation was followed by a good 45 seconds of dead air.

college basketball needs more bill walton.

disqus_lLg81JC3CF said...

Thanks finbammer. The "dead air" I assume is the difference between folks that made him milk the cow, and the folks that milked him...sometimes good, sometimes not so good. Hey, at least Coach Wooden got good milk out of his players, maybe others tried to taint that good milk, ha ha. Hey finebammer, step up in this blog and find us a Chief for Alababama Basketball! One that will tell it like it 45 seconds of dead air...or dead air for years! Get this program some good milk and not milked!

Msmilie said...

Quite possibly the most unintelligible thing I've read in some time. Being someone who spends an inordinate time on the internet, that is really saying something. Kudos to you, Sir Disqus_ILg81JC3CF.

I actually agree with you, Finebammer. Walton is a joy to listen to. Someone seriously needs to set him up with a podcast and just let him go at it.

CTider said...

Assuming we lose at A&M, we should root hard for Tennessee to beat South Carolina so we can fall to the 10 seed and move out of Kentucky's side.

finebammer said...

Sir Disc, i'm sure your father is a fine man.

the 45 seconds (or so) i'm also sure was the cough button being used to cover pasch's laughter.

yes, i think walton would be a wonderful sidekick for paul. unfortunately i also think bill is in a little higher sports communication stratosphere than finebaum. (translation: i don't think paul can afford him!)

to the topic of a replacement for Grant, first, the program doesn't need a replacement yet and i'm not so sure it will. i'm inclined to agree with those who think battle isn't long for retirement and HIS replacement should be the one who chooses the coach. i don't think bill battle wants any part of a high profile coaching search. plus, i think he genuinely likes Grant.

i happened to catch an interview with darrin horn on a local morning drive sports show in b'ham and the topic of Grant and 'Bama b'ball was being discussed. horn's take on it was 'Bama needed to stay with Grant because they likely couldn't get anybody better.

i'm elated that the late Mal Moore didn't take that tact when considering the termination mike shula.

(and don't kid yourself, there were those the local media who advocated exactly that. the Alabama job wasn't that great a position anymore and they likely couldn't find anybody who would take it. sounds pretty damn stupid now, huh?)

DJC said...

I'm still holding out hope that we can pull a Felton. A loss Saturday won't bother me too much assuming ut can beat South Carolina.

needtoknow said...

Your idea of getting the students close to the court to generate interest is so important. What can we do to make that happen? Will anyone listen?

I'm an old guy. I was at Alabama when CM was the basketball coach. Back then a student could sit on t h e front row at mid court. I know it's true because I often did it. I'm not sure when that changed but I know that getting some emotion near t h e court really helps. Getting the students closer would help.

Also can you somehow "force" t h e Tide Pride folks to attend basketball games? I'm sure I'll get some laughs over this comment but it is insane for television to show all those front row empty seats in Coleman. At the very least fill those seats!!!

CTider said...

Battle's retirement should have nothing to do with it. The bottom line is that we can't afford to keep Grant another year. Right now we're probably going to be worse next year. Keeping Grant even one more year would guarantee our program a spot near the bottom of the SEC for most of the next decade.

Msmilie said...

Pulling a Felton would be nice, but a long shot with that Kentucky team likely waiting in the championship. Whatever happens, Alabama probably has to get to 19 wins to have a chance at an NIT bid (how depressing is that to write?). Again, I love Bama basketball, even when things aren't going well, so I'm hoping whether it involves a win on Saturday or a second wind in Nashville that this team can find a way to extend the season, if only a little bit.

Drifter said...

Grant needs to go, but this will be a BOT hire, so the AD doesn't matter. He's just the puppet face.

finebammer said...

"I'm not sure when that changed..........."

i want to say it changed around 1987 after a home game with LSU. part of the student section used to be directly behind the opposing team's bench. then coach dale brown got into an altercation with a student. nobody touched each other but brown claimed this person was in his face and spit on him. (there is some hilarious audio of brown being interviewed about this incident out there somewhere. i haven't heard it in years but suffice it to say dale was EXTREMELY exercised about it) he went back to baton rouge and wrote a letter to the athletic director at the time and Alabama responded by moving the student section to where it is now.

not long after that, tide priders who might get involved enough to, say, stand during the game or shout at the players or refs were advised in a letter from the athletic dept. to use decorum when attending games. basically if they were vocal or animated in their support of the team they were told to sit down and shut up.

it changed the atmosphere in Coleman.

Drifter said...

There was an altercation when Shaq was there, so it would have been 89 or so.

finebammer said...

"Battle's retirement should have nothing to do with it."

no, CT, it shouldn't. but this is Alabama. they have their way of doing things down there and they are extremely resistant to change. what is common sense to us is greek to them.

finebammer said...

drift, i'd be shocked to know the BOT cared that much.

CTider said...

They'll probably take CM Newton's suggestion again if a change is made.

CTider said...

Completely Agree.

finebammer said...

i don't have a lot of fond memories of Shaq. he was a goon in the SEC. his game was down low and that was it. when everybody realized he couldn't shoot free throws, teams started fouling him to put him on the line. Brown didn't care for it much.

i'll never forget the fracas in the SEC tournament game against Tennessee in Birmingham. LSU got the ball down low to Shaq and a UT player tied him up from behind. Shaw took offense and here we go. bench clearing brawl with Brown right in the middle of it.

it was that year he turned pro.

RichTide said...

there are at least 2 on the BOT that care about bball

finebammer said...

"Well, I heard Mr. Young sing about her
Well, I heard ol' Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don't need him around anyhow........."

do you think the boys from jacksonville had any idea the impact, the longevity of the words they were writing?


citadeltidefan said...

The question is will it be enough to push Battle to make a decision? The word on the street now is that Battle will not get rid of Grant unless he can get Richard Pitino from Minnesota. I was afraid when Battle was hired that if a change was eventually going to have to be made in basketball that he wouldn't hire the right it seems he's deliberately trying to not hire anyone at all. I don't think there's anyway Pitino Jr leaves Minn. plus I don't think he's anywhere near proven yet.

Msmilie said...

For what it's worth, Richard Pitino has already won a postseason title (NIT). His Minnesota team took a bit of a step back this season, but I thought they were overvalued in the preseason. Not sure that was all on him.

Though Minnesota plays in a better overall basketball conference, its recent history isn't much better than Alabama. And a warmer climate may be more conducive to landing recruits (Pitino built a lot of southeastern ties coaching at Florida and Louisville).

Perhaps the sweetest deal that would come with hiring Pitino: a potential home-and-home deal with his father at Louisville. Rick played his son at both FIU and Minnesota. Why not Bama?

However, Pitino may not want to develop a reputation of jumping jobs. If he left Minnesota for Alabama, it would be his third head coaching stop, and he's only 32.

citadeltidefan said...

I thought he had a good first year at FIU and then at Minnesota but knew they've fallen off a bit this season. I also remember that he was about the 5th choice for Minnesota after they got rejected by a few other coaches after they fired Tubby. I do think we're a better program historically/potentially than Minnesota but right now I'm afraid most nationally view our basketball program in a negative light...hopefully, Pitino doesn't. You made some good points of why he would leave. I would also think it would be much easier to recruit at Alabama than Minn. I would still be somewhat surprised that he would leave because like you said he would look like an opportunist or someone who simply jumps from ship to ship (Kevin O'Neill). Even though I could name quite a few more candidates that I would rather us this point I would be happy with Pitino (and just about anyone else) over Grant.

needtoknow said...

Define "proven." Is Ricky Petino Jr. A final four coach? Nope but you aint getting one of those at Alabama for all t h e reasons we always say (poor venue, poor fan base, don't want to be overwhelmed by football). I think what your hearing is quite possible. First I'm sure Battle is listening to CM.Newton. CM had a great 'relationship with Rick Petino ( he was Petinos athletic director I believe. You can double check). Anyway youre theory sounds plausible. Also maybe Alabama might not want just anyone. The advantage of a young Petino is that he is young and could be here a long time and he has t h e bloodline. So this is possible.

needtoknow said...

Why wouldn't they? He and Wimp are it for Alabama contacts.